Spin school

Spin school: This is my last rant, I promise, on the up-is-down coverage of September PIB numbers. It’s obvious that my attempts to explain maganomics is a struggling cause.

Here is a quote from Mediapost’s Larry Dobrow’s piece today about the numbers:

September ad pages dipped 4.5% from September 2002 levels, marking the fourth consecutive month of page declines, according to the estimates. While ad page volume still is up 0.3% on a year-to-date basis, the hoped-for second-half rebound has yet to materialize, as evinced by the September results and August’s 2.9% drop. Ad revenues, which are calculated by the PIB on an open rate card basis, have grown 9.0% in 2003, but you’d be hard-pressed to find many people within the magazine business who view those numbers as anything but a disappointment.

“It’s very discouraging,” says Rebecca McPheters, president of magazine consultancy McPheters and Co. “There’s no positive way to spin it. I think magazines may be paying the price for advertisers’ unbridled enthusiasm during the [network TV] upfronts.”

Okay, for those who are in the magazine consultancy business and others, the following is a positive way to spin it.

1. Magazine advertising revenues are up 9%.

2. Magazine advertising page yields are up dramatically.

3. This means that magazines are no longer giving away pages.

4. Here is an extra spin point: Revenues pay consultant fees, ad pages do not. Revenues pay salaries; ad pages do not. Revenues show up on the balance sheet; ad pages do not.

I could go on, but you get the spin.